Brian Rawson
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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The expansion doesn't change the basic game play of Puerto Rico, but it does offer some interesting new twists. This review is intended for players who are familiar with the Puerto Rico base game and it's buildings.

I bought the expansion, but I must admit, it has hardly been used. My friends and I play board games once every 3-4 months. There is a bit of a learning curve involved with the expansion and more than once, other players bailed, saying, "Forget it -- let's play with the buildings I know."

However, I have played with the expansion extensively on-line at http://www.phial.com/puerto-rico. Ben Harrison has done a great job with his site. He added most of the expansion buildings some time ago and recently added the Black Market. (Kudos to Ben -- that must have been difficult to code.) I should note that the online game site does not really explain the rules beyond what you can read with a mouse-over on the buildings. It is intended to be used by players familiar with the rules.

Pre-Game Building Drafting IMO, this is the worst aspect of the expansion. It really slows the game down. It intimidates the hell out of newbies.
According to the rules: Players are supposed to draft buildings one at a time. There can only be a certain number of buildings for each purchase price (only one purple building costing 1 doubloon, two costing 2, one costing 3, etc.). It gets complicated as selecting certain buildings automatically eliminates others.
Variant 1: An alternate variant used on-line is to draft buildings by victory points (four purple buildings worth 1 VP, four worth 2 VPs, etc.). This means that there is less automatic elimination in the early rounds of drafting, but it allows the possiblility that certain price points may not be played. It plays well.
Variant 2: My preferred variant, especially recommended for newbies: Lay out all the buildings for everyone to see and skip the normal draft process. Instead, eliminate excess buildings as they are played. Using the 1-doubloon buildings as an example, Small Market and Aqueduct both are available at the beginning, but as soon as two buildings are purchased (could be one of each), the remaining 1-doubloon buildings are removed from the game. This way everyone has a chance to see how the buildings work together.

Summary of New Buildings:
Aqueduct => +1 increase in production from large indigo and sugar plants (not mills).
Opinion: It's fun to use in combination with Specialty Factory, and any game where pumping out indigo or sugar is important. However, you have to buy it quick because at a cost of one, it will disappear quickly. Using normal rules, it is unlikely to be drafted because Small Market is more valuable.

Forest House => during settler phase, replace selected plantation with a forest. Forest tiles are like other plantation tiles except they do not need colonists. During building phase, reduce building costs by 1 for every 2 forests. This cost reduction is not limited like quaries.
Opinion: This is only worth anything if used in combination with hacienda, enabling two forests per settler phase. Otherwise, it's just too slow to be effective and I don't buy it. Rule updates explicitly forbid using Hacienda with Forest House, but I am not a stickler for that. It is an interesting strategy, but not one that is undefeatable. Without the Hacienda combo, Forest House is rarely drafted ahead of Construction Hut or Black Market.

Black Market => +1 doubloon for each 1 VP, 1 colonist and / or 1 good returned to supply. (No more than one of each.) Usable only for purchasing buildings and only if you have no doubloons left.
Opinion: This can be handy if you always find yourself 1 (or 2 or 3) doubloons short in the building phase. I rarely purchase it. It is rarely drafted ahead of Hacienda or Construction Hut, but may be chosen ahead of Forest House (if Hacienda is not in play).

Storehouse => Can prevent any 3 goods (any type) from spoiling.
Opinion: Very useful for players producing a wide variety of goods. I prefer to draft Storehouse ahead of Small Warehouse.

Guesthouse => Holds up to two colonists who can be moved to plantation or building tiles at any time.
Opinion: Handy if you have excess population. While Hospice is better early in the game, Guesthouse is much better at the end of the game. Also very important near game-end when you intend to buy a large building and need to occupy it without a mayor phase.

Church => gain victory points for adding buildings (0/1/1/2 VPs for buildings in columns 1/2/3/4).
Opinion: I have only used this building once or twice. It's expensive (5 doubloons), must be purchased early to be of value. It's comparable to Harbour, but for buildings. Whether you select this, Trading Post, Office or Large Market depends on your strategy.

Trading Post => you can trade one good through your own Trading Post instead of the shared trading house. However, Trading Post trades do not benefit from Small Market or Large Market.
Opinion: Rarely used. Not as valuable as Office because of the lack of Small Market and Large Market benefits.

Small Wharf => Like Wharf, except earn only 1 VP for every 2 goods shipped.
Opinion: Rarely used. IMO, it's better to store your goods and ship goods one turn later for full points. Not nearly as useful as Large Warehouse.

Lighthouse => earn 1 doubloon for each shipment and captain. Just like Harbour, except for money instead of VP.
Opinion: Another handy way to earn money. It doesn't pay as well as Factory (when you're producing 5 commodities), but it works very well, especially considering that most players focus on producing and shipping 2 or 3 kinds of goods (not 5). It's also more subtle than Factory -- opponents may not recognize 1 doubloon per shipment as a threat, but players earning 5 doubloons per craftsman phase are immediately targeted.

Library => double each of your role (builder, mayor, captain, etc.) privileges. For example, if you selected Settler and your Libarary was occupied, you may select a quarry or plantation first. After every other player has selected a plantation, you may select another plantation (but not a second quarry).
Opinion: This building is worth fighting for. The extra quarries, doubloons, victory points or goods -- they all add up in your favour. IMO, it's a much better building than University and slightly more valuable than Harbour.

Specialty Factory => #-1 doubloons for production of one type of (non-corn) goods. For example, producing 3 indigo earns 2 doubloons.
Opinion: At first, this building seems expensive and low return. However, if you combine different production bonuses (bonus good privlege for selecting Craftsman role, Library double privilege, Aqueduct bonus good), you can earn up to 6 doubloons for producing 7 indigo or sugar. Personally, I find I earn a lot more points producing and shipping many of one good rather than few of several. IMO, Specialty Factory is better than University, but unless you intend to maximize indigo or sugar production, draft Harbour instead.

Union Hall => before shipping, earn 1 VP for every 2 of same goods
Opinion: It's not as handy as a wharf. However, it can be useful if you manage to store many goods with a warehouse and by occupying ships with other goods for several turns. I've been able to earn points on the same stack of corn for 3 or 4 turns while ships never quite filled with coffee, tobacco and sugar.

Cloister (large building) => earn 1/3/6/10 points depending on how many plantation triplets you have (including quarries and forests)
Opinion: It's hard to get high points with this building. The triplets are visible to all players who will do their best to block your purchase. I wouldn't bother drafting it.

Statue (large building) => worth 8 VPs at end of game without requiring a colonist
Opinion: It's so simple it’s beautiful. I love it! I hate having to use Mayor to ensure bonus points at the end of the game. I'd rather buy the statue and ship more goods.

Conclusion:
For frequent Puerto Rico players, the new buildings add a nice variety to the game. It also forces players to adjust their strategies slightly depending on which buildings are in play.

However, I really can't stand the drafting process from the official rules. It's too slow and dramatically delays the game. It's also easier for newbies just to jump into the game with the new buildings, rather than asking them to immediately begin drafting buildings that they may or may not understand. For playing with experienced players, I would strongly recommend a quick random building selection process so that every game scenario is slightly different.

Final Score: 7.5/10 with official rules. 8.5/10 for varients that eliminate the drafting process.
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Yehuda Berlinger
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Re: Puerto Rico Expansion - good buildings, bad game mechani
Um .....

A few things:

Never play with the expansion with newbies. That eliminates that problem. By the time your players have twenty games under their belt, they may be ready for some changes, and in fact might welcome some changes.

Your opinions as to which of the original buildings are useful and which aren't are at variance with many other people's. For instance, many people find the Large Warehouse utterly useless, which makes the Small Wharf at least somewhat more useful. The same goes for Construction Hut, Hospice, and University. Of course, you're entitled to your opinions. You may want to play more games, and with other play groups, in order to challenge these opinions, however.

There are some subtleties to some of the expansion buildings which you may be overlooking. For instance, Trading Post helps maintain a lock on the Trading House by not emptying it as quickly. Church shortens the game by dwindling the VP supply. And so on.

And I'm not entirely certain, but it looks like you have some rules incorrect:

- Black Market doesn't give +1 DBL, but -1 to a building cost, and only if you are out of money.

- Church gives +0/1/1/2 VP's for buildings that you purchase, depending on which column they come from (1/2/3/4)

- Library does not allow you to select an additional quarry. Instead, after all other players have selected, you may select one of the remaining plantations.

Yehuda
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Brian Rawson
Canada
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Ontario
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Shade_Jon wrote:
Never play with the expansion with newbies.

When I referred to 'newbies', I meant players familiar with Puerto Rico, but unfamiliar with the expansion.

Shade_Jon wrote:
Your opinions as to which of the original buildings are useful and which aren't are at variance with many other people's. For instance, many people find the Large Warehouse utterly useless, which makes the Small Wharf at least somewhat more useful. The same goes for Construction Hut, Hospice, and University. Of course, you're entitled to your opinions. You may want to play more games, and with other play groups, in order to challenge these opinions, however.


I would guess that I have well over a hundred games under my belt. I know what works for me. My winning percentage is probably 30-40% in 4- and 5-player games. (I have fun when I lose too.) The beauty of Puerto Rico is that a lot of different strategies work.

I won't get into all the different building combinations, but I do think that either warehouse is better than the Small Wharf because you get full points for goods, albeit one turn later. I've played several games where others attempted the Small Wharf strategy and lost to me.

Shade_Jon wrote:
There are some subtleties to some of the expansion buildings which you may be overlooking. For instance, Trading Post helps maintain a lock on the Trading House by not emptying it as quickly. Church shortens the game by dwindling the VP supply. And so on.


Point taken. Trading Post might be very useful in 3-player games (which I rarely play).

Shade_Jon wrote:
- Black Market doesn't give +1 DBL, but -1 to a building cost, and only if you are out of money.

- Church gives +0/1/1/2 VP's for buildings that you purchase, depending on which column they come from (1/2/3/4)

- Library does not allow you to select an additional quarry. Instead, after all other players have selected, you may select one of the remaining plantations.


Thanks for the corrections. I'll update my original post for the Black Market and Church. I must admit, I have previously played with the Library and picked up two quarries. I guess was playing wrong.
 
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Yehuda Berlinger
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Re: Puerto Rico Expansion - good buildings, bad game mechani
My apologies; I must have sounded pedantic.

To clarify, with Library, you choose either quarry or plantation as usual, and then after all other players have chose plantations, you may choose an additional plantation (but not quarry).

Yehuda
 
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Brian Rawson
Canada
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Ontario
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Shade_Jon wrote:
My apologies; I must have sounded pedantic.

No worries. It was my first review - I didn't expect it to be perfect. I appreciate the feedback.
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Simon Page
United Kingdom
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Good review IMO. It has persuaded me (moderately experienced player online and tabletop) to go and buy it. It sounds like by sidestepping the time-consuming "drafting" phase this extension will force even the most experienced players to reassess their favourite strategies.
Yehuda, as always, has some good points on the matter.
 
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Stephen Michael Hickey
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Of those that have played this expansion many times, how do you think the game would lose out if all the expansion tiles were available together with the original buildings?
 
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Yehuda Berlinger
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You'll discover that the same buildings are bought again and again, which boils down to having pre-selected the best buildings, anyway. Only people will have to think about it for a longer time.

Still, it could be fun for adventurous players.

Yehuda
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Tim Nelson
Australia
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I think that having unused buildings changes the replay value of the game. The way we always play is that the people who care enough about the game to help set up also get to help choose the buildings. Fortunately, in our group, this means that they try to include new combinations that might provide for other possibilities. At first, it was "what can we do to make the building strategy as powerful as the shipping strategy", but now we've realised that, once the shipping strategy is weakened by the removal of some of its key buildings, there are actually about 6 strategies; we haven't yet tested whether they can all be successful, though.
 
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